The town is currently home to two Fortune 500 firms and a solid sense of community.
Bridges in Indiana are usually flat slabs of concrete made for driversefficiently and with no fanfare--from 1 side of a river into another.
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But exhibited from the glass-lined foyer in Columbus City Hall and suggested for building is a scale version of a decidedly atypical bridge using 120-foot towers composed by green plants that were flowing. It had been created by Argentine architect Emilio Ambasz to make a sense of grand entrance and to provide people an inspirational view of a town rated among the top 10 in the country for quality structure.
As are different bridges, this interval is intended to get drivers across a river, but in addition, it reflects the high standard the neighborhood places for everything from sidewalks and parks to economic improvement.
"A town demands a feeling of purpose and place --a feeling of what it needs to be," Schacht says. "Columbus consistently has had a solid sense of community along with a cadre of private and public citizens keen to get involved that's driven it ahead and enabled us to realize what others haven't."
Concentrate 2000, an active partnership involving the general public and private businesses, was made in 1984 in the aftermath of economic downturn, when government and business leaders took a good look at the neighborhood and saw difficulty. Its five biggest manufacturers had cut their payrolls out of 17,000 jobs to only 12,000 in five decades, kicking unemployment nicely into double digits.
"Columbus consistently was influenced by the ups and downs of this durable-goods manufacturing cycle, but what you observed through the 1980s was that every recession was each upturn was shallower.
Even though it has not recovered completely from the hit it took in the early 1980s, the neighborhood is on far better footing, bolstered by a fresh wave of newly recruited companies and expansions at existing plants.
"It was that if Cummins would put off several people or place them on furlough, this neighborhood could come to a dead end," says Columbus Mayor Robert Stewart, who had been elected in 1983 and is running unopposed this season to get a third semester. "You do not find that type of jolt, and I will give credit to Cummins to this since it had been among those very first to find that we had several diversification."
Since 1985, together with powerful support from business leaders, the neighborhood recruited 23 new overseas and national firms and fostered 36 neighborhood expansions. The campaign netted 5,000 new jobs, capital expenditure of over $870 million and state grants at $9.1 million.
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Even though the share of the workforce dependent upon production has fallen from 60 percent many years ago to approximately 45 percent, heavy industry is still king at a town which boasts 2 Fortune 500 firms --Cummins Engine, a manufacturer of diesel motors, and Arvin Industries Inc., which generates mufflers and automotive replacement components.
All these are still the biggest companies in the city, together with longtime industries like Cosco, Golden Casting Corp. and Reliance Electric. However, other companies, big and small, are now contributing to the market, buffering its ties to the automobile and truck markets. Listed below are a Couple of of the greatest new recruits:
* Enkei America, a producer of aluminum wheels, which employs approximately 480 employees;
* Onkyo Corp., a manufacturer of sound speakers for automobiles, which supplies approximately 260 jobs;
* Blue Cross/Blue Shield, that hired approximately 400 office employees to process insurance claims to get the army;
* Heekin Can, that place about 250 employees on the payroll to Generate metal food containers;
* NTN Driveshaft, that provides constant-velocity joints to manufacturers of vehicles together with front-wheel and hard disk driveway and employs approximately 250 individuals;
* Star Container, the latest addition to the corporate community, that plans to employ about 135 employees in the production of food containers.
In its hunt for new companies, Columbus discovered a gold mine in the Far East. "We needed a presence in the Western marketplace and we worked really difficult to allow Japanese businesses understand that Columbus wanted their investment," Tuttle says.
The forces at the labour market affect Columbus since they perform any production community. Jobs dropped in the early 1980s are replaced with other people which frequently pay less.
The reopening of Cummins Engine's Walesboro plant on the town's south side illustrates how fast wage rates adapt to international competition. After the firm shut the plant as part of a consolidation 1988, its employees were making an average of $14.92 per hour. If it reopens in the first quarter to help meet a new requirement for midsize engines, nobody will be getting more than $9.20 per hour.
Executives at Cummins state they'd have been made to take manufacturing to Huntsville, Ala., had the Diesel Worker Union's neighborhood not voted to take a lower-wage contract to the plant. The upside was a $206 million investment at the center and occupations for 750 employees. Other areas of the deal included $5 million in state funds for screening and training solutions, help with construction of water infrastructure and lines along with also a 10-year tax abatement.
It's among those very few incubators in the country without ties into a significant university.
It supplies low-cost manufacturing area, help with business-plan growth and accessibility to high tech production data for budding entrepreneurs and tiny companies. This past year, the incubator and its own small-business growth program helped produce 247 new work in the region.
Though economic growth was on peak of the record, it wasn't the sole issue targeted at the public-private partnership. Its schedule also included plans to revive a feeling of energy.
Among the toughest projects tackled by town in the past few years is a multimillion-dollar face-lift in Mill Race Park.
In typical fashion, two renowned performers take part with the Mill Race job.
Two other projects pushed by the public-private venture are worth mention:
* A national demonstration project--between the town's Front Door Committee, the Indiana Department of Transportation along with a group of architects, engineers and preparation consultants--is creating ideas for enhancing the security, efficiency and look of their entryway corridor from Interstate 65 to downtown Columbus. It will function as a model for communities throughout the country coping with interstate improvement.
* Structure of this fourth-largest convention centre in Indiana, in the Holiday Inn, helped increase Bartholomew County's tourism industry into 13th among the nation's 92 counties this past year.
Obviously, the public-private venture endeavor that many noticeably left its own mark Columbus is just one which predates Focus 2000--the Cummins Engine Foundation architectural application. It stems from 1957, once the base offered to cover architectural fees for the design of new universities, together with the stipulation that legendary architects be chosen as designers. Because of this, the town of 21,800 has 50 buildings made by internationally known architects.
The base has compensated the architectural fees for its look of 25 people buildings, such as schools, City Hall, the new county prison, many fire stations, the U.S. Post Office and senior citizen and youth facilities. Another 25 are structures commissioned by churches and private companies, all which hired top architects.
The bridge project exhibited at City Hall signifies the very first time that the foundation has implemented its architectural program into some bridge and also the first time that the Indiana Department of Transportation has employed a noted architect to help design a bridge.
Schacht, chairman of the Focus 2000 steering committee, says that the achievement of this public-private venture in Columbus is caused by involvement by all classes.
"A feeling of partnership is part of our legacy," he states. "It proceeds is a tribute to the energy of this community."